Improvisation With The Mixolydian Scale

This is a guitar lesson on improvisation with the Mixolydian scale. It includes an example solo and backing tracks that you can play along with.

Improvisation With The Mixolydian Scale: Introduction

The Mixolydian scale is a modal scale. It is formed from a major scale, starting and ending on the fifth degree.

Many traditional folk melodies are written with the Mixolydian scale. It occurs frequently in Celtic music.

Modal scales are also often used in jazz improvisation. One particular use of the Mixolydian scale is for soloing over dominant seventh chords.

If you find yourself improvising over a 2 5 1 progression, you can use the Mixolydian scale to solo over the 5 chord.

How To Play The Mixolydian Scale On Guitar

One way of playing a Mixolydian scale is shown below. It is a movable shape. Position the green notes over the desired tonic note of the scale. (E.g. start at the 3rd fret to play a G Mixolydian scale.)

G Mixolydian Guitar Diagram

Mixolydian Guitar Scale Shape
Mixolydian Guitar Scale Shape

Mixolydian Scale TAB & Notation

g mixolydian scale tab notation
G Mixolydian Scale Guitar Tab & Notation

Mixolydian Scale Theory Tip

One way of thinking about the Mixolydian modal scale is that it’s the same as a major scale with the seventh degree flattened.

Notes in a C Major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

Notes in a C Mixolydian scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C

The flattened seventh note makes the Mixolydian scale a good choice for improvising over dominant seventh chords (e.g. G7 in a C major tune). This is because seventh chords also contain a flattened seventh note.

Example Improvisation Using The Mixolydian Scale

Below is an example of a guitar solo using the Mixolydian scale.

Example Guitar Solo Improvisation With G Mixolydian Scale

The guitar solo is played over this chord sequence:

Improvisation With The Mixolydian Scale Chord Sequence
Chord Sequence For Improvisation With Mixolydian Scale

Notes On This Solo

  • For the first two bars, the C major and C pentatonic major scales are used.
  • For the second two bars, the G Mixolydian scale is used.

You may have noticed that in fact the C major and G Mixolydian scales use the same notes. However, it’s the starting point of the phrases that give each scale its distinctive sound.

Mixolydian Mode Backing Track

Now it’s time to play your own solo using the Mixolydian scale.

Improvise over the same chord sequence:

chord sequence improvisation mixolydian guitar scale
Chord Sequence For Improvisation With Mixolydian Scale
  • Try to approach the C major and G Mixolydian parts of the solo separately. Think of the C major scale and the G Mixolydian scale as different scales.
  • You can also use a C pentatonic major scale anywhere in the progression for variation.
Backing Track For Improvisation With G Mixolydian Scale

Improvisation With The Mixolydian Scale Conclusion

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this lesson and that you’re now playing some great Mixolydian licks!

Now you know the scale in one position, you should learn to play it all over the neck. See this page for more Mixolydian scale shapes: Mixolydian Scale.

guitar modes backing tracks
Guitar Modes Backing Tracks by Guitar Command.
guitar scales chart
Guitar Scales Chart Download – Click On Image For Details

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